It would be quite easy be a bit mean here, dismissing Dance Central 2 as a speedily-released cash-in released at just the right time in the year to lure unsuspecting Kinect owners into picking it up for parties, gatherings and whatever else goes on at the end of the year. It would also be wrong to do that, as Harmonix’s sequel to The Only Good Reason To Own Kinect At Launch (aka the original Dance Central) is really very good.
For those unfamiliar, Dance Central 2 allows players to pretend they’re actually good at dancing by wiggling and waggling in front of their TV to numerous licensed music tracks. Picture the four thousand ‘street’ dancers on X-Factor and you’ve got the right idea, but add on top of it the fact that you get to do it in private and it’s really good fun.
The big addition, for those with living rooms the size of zeppelin hangars at least, is simultaneous two-player modes – far beyond the wafer-thin multiplayer of last time around. It is, unsurprisingly, the perfect addition to Dance Central 2 and works as you would hope, with players taking steps in turn, working together or trying to work their way through a set of moves before their opponent can. Just like Rock Band, just like Singstar, just like any other party game that makes you some kind of music-related superstar it has a hypnotic, compulsive appeal. And now it has the ability to settle disagreements between friends with a legitimate, officially-judged dance-off.
Also heavily improved is the Break It Down training mode, which enables players to practice individual moves as well as an entire routine. Not only that, but the game will actively tell you which steps you weren’t up to scratch on and recommend you retry them in an isolated fashion – though obviously you don’t have to if you think your wild flailing is actually up to task. Then again, with the general accuracy Kinect has, the game is probably right when it says you’re doing it wrong.
While Dance Central 2’s selection of tracks still lacks the eclectic feel (and silliness) found in Ubisoft’s Just Dance, it still offers dozens of fine danceables. Tracks from the previous game can also be imported for a cost of 400 Microsoft Points, if you so choose, and in total there should be over 100 tracks available from day one. It’s definitely not going to be a tracklist to everyone’s taste, especially if you have no idea who David Guetta is and you would rather self-flagellate than voluntarily listen to Justin Bieber. But here you have two choices: ignore it, because it’s probably not for you; or just go with it, get into it and dance like no one’s watching. We’d recommend going with the latter.